Los Angeles Times fires photographer who altered war picture.


Click to enlarge picture.

The folks at the Los Angeles Times take their photo-journalism seriously:

The primary subject of the photo was a British soldier directing Iraqi civilians to take cover from Iraqi fire on the outskirts of Basra. After publication, it was noticed that several civilians in the background appear twice. The photographer, Brian Walski, reached by telephone in southern Iraq, acknowledged that he had used his computer to combine elements of two photographs, taken moments apart, in order to improve the composition.

Times policy forbids altering the content of news photographs. Because of the violation, Walski, a Times photographer since 1998, has been dismissed from the staff.

The explanation linked to above shows both of the original photos prior to the editing. The temptation to improve on reality is understandable, but can not be tolerated if the integrity of the press is to be maintained.

9 thoughts on “Los Angeles Times fires photographer who altered war picture.

  1. I found the originals to be just as wrong as the modified image. Either way there is a photo showing a man holding a child, and a soldier with a finger on his trigger right next to him.

    I understand how modifying an image is wrong, I just don’t see why he modified it in the first place.

  2. With my limited PhotoShop image manipulation experience I could see the “wrongness” of the image immediately. At the very least he could have masked the background with a gradient and applied the gaussian blur filter. It’s too damn clean to be real.

  3. Eric, are you talking about the clouds? If you read the article, you will see that those clouds are real…

  4. Not the clouds although clouds could have been taken from any source and the other elements composited over them. It is more that the soldier in the foreground is lit in a way that makes him look pasted in especially when compared to the other people in the scene. The shadows on the soldier suggest the light source is coming from somewhere other than the light source on the man standing with the child (see the shadow he is casting on the ground). I cant be more specific looking at the tiny compressed version I have here, but faked was the first thing I thought when I saw it.

  5. Wow. I am just glad to know that news photos cannot be altered.  I never knew that. I am sorry the guy lost his job.

  6. The problem is that they can be altered, easily, which is why it’s important that news agencies not tolerate it. Remember all the flack Newsweek took over their “darkening” of the O.J. Simpson pic they put on their cover? That was relatively minor in comparison to this edit job.

    This should serve as a reminder that you can’t even necessarily believe what you see anymore without doing a little research or considering it very carefully.

    For example, to date they have yet to find any amount of chemical or biological weapons in Iraq and yet the administration keeps on insisting that they have tons of the stuff stored there. Even if they never find any such thing it wouldn’t be hard to manufacture evidence supporting the assertion if the folks in power are corrupt enough. Not saying they would, but it’s important in this technological age to maintain a healthy amount of skepticism.

  7. there were weapons of mass distruction, only they werent in the form of chemicals or nukes. it was saddam and his kids.

  8. So by your way of thinking George W. Bush is a weapon of mass destruction (albeit a bumbling idiotic one)? Given his murderous rampage through Iraq I would have to say that he and his handlers are far more dangerous to the world at large, Saddam was shooting rubber bands by comparison.

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